Sunday, November 23, 2008

Steps 7-9 for personal peacemaking

These 21 steps are from Lynn Fitz-Hugh, and were published in the August 2008 Friends Journal. Below are steps 7-9.

7. When in a conflict with another person, it is not helpful to keep going over in our mind (or with another person) how bad the other person is, or how bad his or her actions were, how upset he or she makes us, or how much we hate this person.

Angry thoughts are like poison. They harm the thinker. You strengthen what you dwell upon, so if you dwell on the negative, it gets stronger. If you focus on the good, it will be stronger. Which makes more sense? When my daughter was little, and I heard her say she hated something, I always replied "Don't hate, because it makes you feel bad." That's a simple way of conveying step 7. Also don't hate because it does no good. And I mean "good" in all its meanings.

8. What is helpful is to focus on the good points of the person. "If we are not aware of any, try to notice what those might be or what other people like about that person. In a pinch, make up something: 'This person is kind and loving to his or her cat at home.' The idea here is not to lie to ourselves or live in fantasy, but we need to start connecting to the part of that person that we would like to have in our life. No one is without good. The more we focus on what we do not like about a person, the more we experience waht we do not like about him or her."

I should be practicing this step a little more actively. And asking others I love to do so. I tried it during the election. I told my Obama-leaning companions that I thought John McCain had a lot of good points. I named some, and my companions quickly named the bad points. My point, I think, is that by remembering the good in him, I couldn't demonize him or show disrespect.

9. Making fun of the person you are in conflict with, or engaging in sarcasm or ridicule, is poison.

'nuff said.

Go in peace, and practice a step or two today.


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